We sit down with Nokia’s Stephen Elop

Nokia World is still going strong in Abu Dhabi and we have plenty of coverage yet to bring you today, but one of those is of high priority: Executive Vice President, Devices & Services, Stephen Elop. Of course many of you know him as the former President and CEO of Nokia (until Microsoft agreed to buy the hardware division of Nokia in early September). That change will eventually result in Elop becoming Executive Vice President at Microsoft once the deal is finalized in early 2014.

In a roundtable discussion with a select few in the media, we were able to ask Elop about today’s announcements, which included the Lumia 1320, Lumia 1520 and Lumia 2520 and new Asha devices.

Lumia 2520 and the Surface 2

In regards to the Lumia 2520 Windows RT 8.1 tablet, the big question on people’s minds was how Microsoft would perceive the launch, considering the Surface 2 is launching today. Elop was quite prepared in his response, noting that Nokia went to great care to differentiate their Lumia 2520 from what Microsoft was offering. Such things as mobility (4G LTE), readability outdoors (ClearBlack, 650 nits display) and creating unique software experiences like StoryTeller, would all help distinguish the Surface 2 from the Lumia 2520.

Does Microsoft mind though? Even if Microsoft wanted the Lumia 2520 cancelled to avoid competition with their Surface 2, we’ve already explored how they couldn’t persuade Nokia to do so, without raising the ire of regulatory agencies overseeing the acquisition. Microsoft may not prefer it, but it’s clear Nokia believes in the 2520, a device that has been in the works for some time.

Who’s the Lumia 1520 geared for?

When it comes to the Lumia 1520, the Lumia with a massive 6-inch display, there is some question as to which market the device is aimed at. Whereas Elop notes that the Lumia 1020 is focused on “extreme imaging”, the Lumia 1520 still offers a versatile camera that most consumers will be impressed with, but with less audacious specifications. The display, however, is clearly the main attraction on the Lumia 1520 and according to Elop, productivity is the chief beneficiary of that massive offering. By allowing users to work in Office, utilize an optimized email client and do more with ease, the Lumia 1520 could be a workhorse.

Of course, you can’t deny that watching a movie or viewing images on the Lumia 1520 won’t be a hell of an experience and Nokia is banking that you’ll want to do that as well.

On Instagram

We had to ask: How does it feel to finally announce Instagram for Windows Phone? Of course Elop burst with laughter and there was a clear sigh of relief coming from head of Nokia’s Lumia reinvention. There’s no denying that Instagram was hounding both Microsoft and Nokia at every interview opportunity, and with today’s announcement, Windows Phone can finally move on.

Elop though was quick to point out that while it’s great to get Instagram, there’s more to the ecosystem than one app.  Nokia themselves have created quite a few unique and differentiating experiences that they hope consumers will notice when considering a Lumia.

Technology and the next big thing

In fact, Elop is less concerned with what the next big app should be for Windows Phone and is more focused on innovation and creating new experiences:

“Having every app doesn’t mean you win, it just takes you to par. [We’d rather] focus on certain differentiators: Design, imaging, location”

Citing the iPhone and how it “got touch right” (even though touch displays had been around for some time), Elop thinks we see the biggest “moves in technology” when “…there is major change in a user interaction models. You’ll see us work towards that.”

That kind of drive for innovation and redefining paradigms is what Nokia is banking on with their innovations in camera, display and location based technology. Whether or not it will resonate with consumers, remains to be seen. But so far, we like what we see.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.